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Do we need civil disobedience? Protest has become plagued by moral virtue

(Guy Smallman/Getty Images)


September 2, 2022   5 mins

It was over ten years ago that Occupy protestors visited St Paul’s cathedral. Many of those involved have now graduated to Extinction Rebellion. And over the next few weeks they plan to take to the streets of London, Cardiff and Manchester with acts of civil disobedience to draw attention to the climate catastrophe of global warming.

I was lying on a sun lounger when a call came through to ask if I would like to take part in The Reunion, a Radio 4 programme bringing together those involved with Occupy to reminisce about the significance of that movement. I wearily declined. Being over 2,000 miles away from the steps of St Paul’s made this an easy decision. But I may have declined anyway. My protesting days are over.

“I have sung Joan Baez’s We Shall Overcome for years, but nothing has changed” was how an old friend of mine expressed the same weariness — not so much a cynical acceptance of the status quo, more a feeling of being beaten down by political reality. Many of the friends I made during the Occupy protest had various sorts of breakdown after the camp was cleared. Some made for the woods to find themselves again, some were burnt out and plunged into depression, others found the emotional wherewithal to reboot their protesting energy, and I admire them for this. We Shall Overcome began life as a Methodist hymn, words taken from the letter of Paul to the Galatians: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Protesting, even to the point of civil disobedience, has a great deal of religious energy about it — one might even say Christian energy. It is not insignificant that protester and Protestant share an obvious etymology. In the letter to the Galatians, Paul was exhorting his fellow Christians to place faith above the religious law. His major concern was a distant dispute about circumcision, but the philosophical way he addressed this issue — setting faith and law against each other — has provided a kind of justification for protesters ever since. It makes no difference that this may be a misreading of Paul, whether the target is the government or the Pope, the disruptive energy of Galatians has reshaped the world. So why am I rooted to my sun lounger? Am I not convicted by this inaction, especially as I am slapping on the sunscreen whilst directly facing the Sea of Galilee, a few miles from where all this disruptive energy was first expressed, at least in my tradition?

 

Yes, there are things about the “spirituality” of the protestor that have come to bother me, not least an overconfidence in what they think of as “doing good” — an overconfidence that can spill over into self-righteousness, that abiding condition of many on the progressive Left. Is it really OK to block the path of ambulances on their way to hospital or people trying to go about their legitimate business? If the cause is weighty enough, the means can be justified. This can provide a dangerous licence to behave badly, the virtue of the cause obscuring an obligation to common human decency. But there again, if the cause is something like the Civil Rights movement and yes, even the Climate Catastrophe, then emergency measures can feel necessary. I wish I knew how to square this circle.

Back in the late Sixties, the two famous Czech writers, Milan Kundera and Václav Havel, began an ongoing spat about the value and dangers of the protesting mindset with respect to the so-called Prague Spring of 1968. Following a period of liberalisation and democratisation — “socialism with a human face” they called it — the Soviet Union sent half a million soldiers into Czechoslovakia to reverse the changes. Eight months of protest followed: some sabotaged street signs, some set themselves ablaze. Havel admitted that there was no hope, but nonetheless proposed “risky” protest. In a fierce essay called Radicalism and Exhibitionism (1969), Kundra went for the jugular.

“Havel states that no hopes endured, but unlike most people this does not arouse in him resignation or defeatism, but on the contrary a strengthened longing for action. But to what end action, when no hopes endured? 
 Such action has only a twofold aim: (1) to unmask the world in all its irreparable amorality, and (2) to display its author in all his pure morality.

“In this way what was originally a purely moral attitude (the rejection of the unjust world) has turned into pure moral exhibitionism. The effort to publicly demonstrate the beauty of one’s own morality outweighs the effort to change things for the better
”

I do not want to take a deep dive into Czech politics, but it should be said — contra Kundera — it was protesters and the memory of those who had given their lives during the Prague Spring that kept the energy going and helped topple the Soviet regime in 1989. And, of course, Havel became President. This is the moral dilemma: Kundera has, to my mind, a compelling point about the moral exhibitionism of protest, but Havel seemed to be on the right side of history.

This same energy of protest is now being focused, not just against those who deny the gravity of the current environmental crisis, but also against the Tories whose indifference to the cost-of-living crisis seems evident to many of us. Around 1,500 people packed Manchester Cathedral on Tuesday evening to protest that “Enough is Enough”, and call for a national day of action on 1 October. Another movement called Don’t Pay UK is co-ordinating a mass non-payment of energy bills and blockades of petrol stations. As a church we are thinking about establishing ourselves as a “warm bank” for local people who may have to choose between food and heating, even in a relatively prosperous place like Kew.

But we want affordable energy and we want environmentally friendly energy — not necessarily a straightforward combination. We want to stand with the people of Ukraine, but we flinch when the Russians turn the gas off. I can’t say I like the look of this coming Tory government and their cold-heartedness towards the poor. But it’s not all about the Tories.

Protest is often a legitimate cry against the detrimental impact of human action towards the world and especially the most vulnerable, but it is not always the best means of providing solutions, especially ones with full democratic legitimacy. “We shall overcome” is not a programme of action.

So am I still the protesters’ friend? I may be tired and still a little burnt out, but I know what I have to say: of course. Because in the end, despite all my Kundera-like pessimism of human nature, I am equally Eeyore-ish about change ever taking place without grassroots political pressure. So perhaps I should lift myself off my metaphorical sun lounger and get back involved. I still feel a little emotionally burned from my experience during Occupy. I too felt the darkness after it ended. And I do still fear the way in which protest can become morally high on its own supply of virtue. But I must get over this debilitating melancholy. Sometimes we have little choice.


Giles Fraser is a journalist, broadcaster and Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew.

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Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

They are protesting against the predictable results of the actions they demanded (and in fact derided as inadequate) in response to the “climate catastrophe”. The whole point of decarbonisation policy was to drive high emitting industries overseas, to electrify heat and transport, and to replace coal, nuclear and HFO electricity generation with renewables. Gas had to be favoured over other fuel types for electricity generation – all of which are currently cheaper than gas – because gas power plants are much better able to flex up and down during the day to fill the gaps left by intermittent renewable generators. Of course this required duplication of expensive infrastructure as backup, and it became increasingly difficult to find anyone willing to build the necessary backup generators, when these would always be forced to play second fiddle to heavily supported renewables. Anyone who questioned the long term cost, geopolitical risk, or security of supply implications of any of this was smeared as a climate change “denier”. The alleged “cold heartedness towards the poor” of a Tory government which has thrown money around like a drunken sailor for the past three years just underlines the cartoonish world these people live in. Acquiescing to their childish demands has already done terrible damage, yet even now they double down on these demands, and blame everyone except themselves for the hole “climate catastrophe” rhetoric has put us all in.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen Walsh
Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Isn’t there also something happening in Ukraine that might bear on the present critical situation?

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

So was it sensible to have an energy policy which increased dependence on a commodity whose supply and therefore price was controlled by a hostile and aggressive foreign power? War in Ukraine was the occasion of this price increase, but downplaying energy security relative to decarbonisation as a priority was the cause. If it hadn’t been this war which caused gas price increases, it could have been something else.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

What wind and solar enthusiasts seldom acknowledge is that increasing dependence on intermittent, non-dispatchable , less-dense sources of energy such as wind turbines and solar panels, means increased reliance on energy-dense, dispatchable sources such as gas powered generators, and imported woodchips aka “biomass”.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

War in Ukraine was certainly one of the causes, but printing trillions of dollars was another. The war only gives cover to the bungling Western leaders who are leading us down the path towards hell on earth.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

“So am I still the protesters’ friend? I may be tired and still a little burnt out, but I know what I have to say: of course”. Giles may write an elegant essay but he also writes a lot of tosh. As you say the reasons for our bind on energy is the result of the measures he champions. Although, of course, Putin’s response to sanctions over his invasion of Ukraine have accelerated the price rise.

High energy prices are simply a market signal that useable energy is now fairly rare for something in high demand as a result of the way we have been used to living when it was relatively abundant. Is it actually a human right to be able to live in a fairly uninsulated house consuming enough energy to heat the house to a level where one can walk around from room to room just in a T-shirt or thin dress in the middle of winter? Of course not. Many pensioners houses are heated to a stifling level of heat. I am old enough to remember putting on sweaters and long-Johns in the house in winter and just heating a main room with a log fire. Was it miserable and unsafe? Not that I remember.

Price is the market mechanism to ration things.Socialists love to interfere with this rationing system to distribute things along the lines they think right. The result is to blunt the effect of this rationing and enable practices that need to be changed in the light of the new relative shortage. Government choice is to impose a price cap and risk bankrupting the energy companies as seems to have happened in France or driving up the price of energy further by throwing money at it for the politically favoured and impoverish further the rest or a combination of both.

The answer, of course, is to start producing our own sources of energy again instead of pretending we are virtuously saving the planet by relying on other countries to be the bad guys and produce the energy we want. In other words stop being hypocritical.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Pensioners (aka the elderly) keep their homes at stifling temps because the elderly body loses the capacity to regulate temperature. They very easily become cold. My 94 year old mother has electric for everything in her house and the winter bills would be astronomical if she did not have pro-rated bills. As it is her monthly year round bills are merely gigantic. And she lives in the SW United States with moderate winters.

Last edited 1 year ago by Betsy Arehart
danni baylees
danni baylees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Do you understand why pensioners need what you call stifling heat ? Some need the heat high as well as wearing extra clothing.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  danni baylees

You might have gathered from my reference to long-johns that I am well past pension age myself and so am pretty familiar with the greater sensitivity to cold of pensioners. I was talking not of temperatures needed to stave off hyperthermia but stifling to someone pretty elderly – although a few years short of 94. A home doesn’t need to be heated to hot-house level unless you have some serious medical condition.

Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Hm, I wish I had said that.

David Barnett
David Barnett
1 year ago

It is all very well to protest that something is very wrong (and it is). It is much harder to identify the source of the problem and work towards a fix.
Occupy failed to change anything because its attention was misdirected. Bankers and Wall Street are not inherently problematic. It is their privileged position as first recipients of fiat money creation that is the cause of the undeserved portion of their wealth and the growing inequality. It is the fiat money system itself, so beloved of neo-Keynesians, that is behind many of society’s ills. See “The Fiat Standard” by Saifdean Ammous.
The present energy protests will not alter the fact that there is a worldwide shortfall in certain fossil fuels, and no easy substitutes. The hysterical war on CO2 has contributed mightily to the present shortfall (and even if we were to reverse course today, it would be several years before the supply could ramp up again).
As it happens, the models behind the CO2 panic are so shoddy (see “Unsettled” by Steven Koonin), and their misuse so egregious, that I cannot bring myself to call it science.
There is a long term problem with our dependence fossil fuels for all our energy needs, but CO2 is not it. They are a finite resource and the energy cost to extract more is rising. It will take a lot of ingenuity to find viable substitutes. Forcing “solutions” with mass rollouts of the current immature technological alternatives is making finding real solutions much harder.
So yes, protest, but look for underlying causes rather than the obvious symptoms.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

How Giles can decry the “climate catastrophe” in one breath and the sky high energy bills that have resulted (predictably) from the actions taken to address said “catastrophe”, is the circle I’m having a hard time squaring.

It’s not that tough. Do you want to feel like your saving the planet, or do you want to save your fellow citizens from freezing this winter?
And anyone who is uncertain of the right answer has serious problems.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brian Villanueva
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

One thing I’m quite certain of is the inability of humans to impact the tilt of our globe or affect it’s weather patterns over tens of millions of years.
Just like men who believe they are women, some people think we can “save” our planet from 4 1/2 billion years of evolution.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

Oh Giles how could you use that trite, pompous phrase “the right side of history” ?

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Because there is a right side of history. Those who supported the Nazis’ in the 30s were on the wrong side of history even if they dismissed the phrase as pompous nonsense.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

History does not have a right or wrong “side”, it is not moral, it is just History.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

National Socialists of that era would not have dismissed the phrase as it is a modern piece of pomposity. If the US had taken a non-interventionist approach and the Germans had not lost the battle of Stalingrad you may well have been parroting what you learned in your National Socialist school to the effect that the glorious thousand year Reich was the “right side of history”.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yes, Nazis and Communists believe history (and the future) has a side. Liberals understand that history is what happened.
Are you saying that the Nazi understanding was the right way to view this?
Issues have sides and some outcomes are better than others. History is what we understand to have occurred.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Johnson
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

I agree with Claire D. Although if you want to chose a side the right side depends where you stand ideologically. As you say, some outcome are better than others – depending who you are. I imagine if you are a German who finds Mein Kampf an inspiring read a National Socialist Europe would be definitely be the right side.

David Watts
David Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I think all of this “Playing with words” is a load of cr-p. It seems quite simple to me to choose the course that will get us through this current predicament with the minimum amount of hardship all round (there is going to be some) and I do foresee a very hard winter. But all of this overcomplicated talk is not going to help anything. At this moment we have one very serious problem that is creating the majority of this hardship, and that serious problem goes by the name of Putin and until that MAD b*****d is stopped we cannot think about resuming normality in most areas of life whatever your flavour maybe. So in my opinion the best bet would be to put a great deal more effort and money in to a credible route of stopping this out of control psychopath in Moscow. And talking wont be the answer. Until this has been achieved nothing is going to get any better. So all of this “Nit picking” fodder everyone on here seems to be churning up is only going to exacerbate the problem a great deal more, with even the possibility we end up destroying ourselves. I never went to School, I would probably be described as an ignorant pig, but this is my opinion of the current scene.

David Watts
David Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Hey moderators on Unheard, don’t you like a piece of straight talk on your site? I just put an easy to read straightforward comment in answer to above (It was not rude) and it has been removed. I think you are probably worse than the people on here everyone seems to be complaining about.

David Barnett
David Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

If the US had remained non-interventionist in 1916-17, the war would have ended in stalemate. No one-sided Treaty of Versailles, no Weimar Republic, no National Socialism and no WW-2.
If WW-1 had ended before October 1917, there might have been no Bolshevik revolution either.
We might still eventually have had a great depression (because of the Federal Reserve’s insane attempts to put off recessions), but no “New Deal”, because those measures were reworked WW-1 measures.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Boom. Straight to Godwin. Do not pass Go.

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

In the 1930s a lot of those cheery Cockneys who defiantly kept cheerful under Hitlers bombs delivered by the Luftwaffe,an awful lot of them thought Hitler had some sensible ideas and were dead against Jews being let in this country,even children. They shared their approval of much Nazi social legislation with much of the aristocracy who thought along similar lines. And upper class English gels in Germany for the culture and skiing were drawn like moths to a flame to those young,fit and sexy Gestapo officers. It was the Hugo Boss designed uniform.

danni baylees
danni baylees
1 year ago
Reply to  jane baker

And many of the people also booed Churchill and the royal family

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

It’s usually an attempt to avoid debate.

An appeal to assumed modernity. “Join us or you’ll look old-fashioned”

No doubt all the totalitarian monsters of the 20th century proclaimed they were on the right side of history.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago

Non-payment of bills as a protest might be quite useful to society as a whole, as the refuseniks could have their energy cut-off – leading to reduced demand and the placing of downward pressure on prices.
It may even teach some people that their actions have consequences.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Barton
jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

If the can’t pay/won’t payers are of the same demographic as MOST of the non poll tax payers then they are tattooed,pierced,wear grunge clothing,live in squats and get their electric off next door which they’ve illegally wired up to. Hardly anyone is really not going to pay for very obvious reasons.

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 year ago

”We want to stand with the people of Ukraine, but we flinch when the Russians turn the gas off.”

More like we want to be enablers of the destruction of Ukraine. Who is going to say to Biden…”Ok, your $70 billion of Arms and money and the sanctions has enabled resistance – and encouraged the resistance, which led to the flattening of Ukraine, so you brioke it, you fix it.” The number I have heard bandied about for the rebuilding, once the fighting does stop, is $700,000,000,000,000, call it a Trillion. Hard times are coming, I do not think they will get the money.

The Parisians had the occupation and Vichy, and after about 4 years they had their land back, and the place intact.

As far as the sign in the top – Eating or Heating? Dies he mean the energy workers and food business workers should work for free, and so food and energy be free? Because the prices are not coming down and to print more money to try to get them down is an Inflation Death Spiral.

The economic problems, and they are just the tip of the iceberg now, are caused by the Governments money printing, Lockdown, Bio/Pharma/Medical Industrial Money spending and the Sanctions on Russia although every one knew this would be the result. Everyone saw the inflation, the energy chaos, the supply line chaos it had to fallow the things done since 2020.

I can only believe this means the Entire West has been captured by the Devos, WEF, Corporatocracy, Elites – and this is wholly engineered to produce ‘The Great Reset’, and you civil unrest protesters are pawns in the game, you have been created, and predicted, and will be enabled, to bring down the West. This inflation and energy crisis was created for breakdown of the State, and the ‘protests, later riots’ are just another tool. Or do you actually believe all the leaders thought Lockdown, Vax which does nothing, and insane levels of money printing, and a war with the country who holds all the vital energy, were just a series of mistakes?

Giles, it is time for belt tightening, and some Trump MAGA Kinds, some MBGA, MFGA, MNGA and fight the real problem, the Corporatocracy who owns the Media, Social Media, and everything else. To take back our countries, the opposite of what these protestors will be doing.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

“The Parisians had the occupation and Vichy, and after about 4 years they had their land back, and the place intact”

Not to be pedantic, but if I recall correctly, Paris was NOT part of Vichy, it was ‘fully’ occupied by the Germans (Hate the ‘modern’, ‘correct’, notion that it was the Nazi’s and somehow nothing to do with the Germans). Also, if memory serves, the French “after about 4 years” only got their land back because of a concerted effort by millions of people, from other countries, at no small cost in blood and treasure. ( You’re not French are you ? They don’t seem to think anyone else was involved in the liberation of France either)

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Lewis
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

“The Parisians had the occupation and Vichy, and after about 4 years they had their land back, and the place intact.”

So you favour acceding to Putin’s “final demand” to seize a chunk of the Ukraine and to gear up for a world war involving the invasion of Russia so that after about 4 years the Ukrainians can have their land back in a better condition than might otherwise be the case? Don’t you think in a nuclear world this might be a bit unrealistic?

Or do you feel we should have simply stepped away and urged the Ukrainians to roll over to Putin’s demands followed by the same in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and so on?

Is it not up to the Ukrainians to decide what they want to do and supply them with defensive weapons to try to check Putin’s aggression?

Our principal problem is that we in Europe have failed to secure our energy needs at home while relying on Russia to supply the energy we want. We have had the luxury of proclaiming our green credentials while simply exporting the source of energy we want to a country that has different agenda to us. Not very sensible.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

This is yet another article by yet another armchair revolutionary egging on *other people* to break the law. Note that said armchair revolutionaries are not going to themselves engage in civil disobedience etc, because they are only too aware that breaking civil law quickly turns into breaking criminal law if you persist. For example, if you don’t pay your energy bills, you will have injunctions, summons and fines lodged against you. If you then don’t comply with those you will have repossession or forcible ejection orders against you. If you then resist those with physicality or persist in not paying the fines, you will then be engaged in criminal law breaking – resulting eventually in a sentence. If you don’t resist, you will simply have protested to no purpose and much greater expense, having ruined your credit scores to boot so life then becomes even more difficult. Should a member of the clergy seriously be recommending such behaviour? How can this not be considered completely irresponsible?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

And, you might add, given that the energy providers have to cover their costs somehow, the non-payers will simply increase those inevitable costs, which will fall on those who put extra jumpers on and pay their bills

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

And the fact that many of the so-called protesters are merely paid stooges, who emerge from their flats after being paid by professional agitators like George Soros.

Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
1 year ago

I simply don’t believe that anyone in Britain faces the choice of either ‘eating or heating’. Drill down a bit and you find these people run two cars (our household doesn’t have one), eat out (we never do), go on holidays (I haven’t been on one for years), crank the heating up rather than put on a jumper, smoke, drink, have expensive hobbies (mine are gardening and reading books form the local library) and do various other things that I don’t and which cost money.
And why are the people who the BBC usually chooses for their hard-luck-story interviews invariably obscenely fat? Does anyone honestly believe that eating heathly food, or simply less food, is more expensive than a full-on McDonalds-style diet?

Last edited 1 year ago by Keith Merrick
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Keith Merrick

I always get a laugh from obese people claiming starvation.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

Very few wish to acknowledge that the price caps are actually shielding domestic consumers from the true costs of energy.
Businesses have no such luxury and their only options are to go out of business (unemployment, poverty) or pass on costs (inflation, poverty). Both options affect everybody but I doubt the protestors give a hoot about business. You might even say they are “cold-hearted”.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

Its not as simple as that, and it is largely caused by Mrs May, yes, her again, tinkering with things she did not understand. The carbon based market is indeed very expensive at the moment, partly because much of it is supplied by people who do not like western liberty and democracy, but also because those very western democracies closed their own carbon resources down, and exported their zero targets to the east.
To an extent the replacement of those secure home sources has succeeded, but not fast enough, and too much of it by big capital – instead of the sensible way of putting small turbines and solar panels close to users – like on roofs, in back gardens, etc, they are parked in distant fields and mountains and their profitability was guaranteed by Mrs M’s ridiculous caps. Now of course the owners are making massive profits because returns are way over the costs of installation, production, and transmission. If anybody deserves a windfall tax it is those financial engineers, not carbon based importers.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

China most certainly has NOT signed on to reducing carbon emissions. Firing up dozens of new, coal fired electric generation plants is the opposite of what the greens wish for. But is precisely what is needed in an energy thirsty world. (perhaps using natural gas, however)

P Branagan
P Branagan
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

‘Western freedom and democracy’*?
Ever hear of Covid? What a ‘larf’!

Following on the trial run for totalitarianism offered by Covid, and given the blanket censorship and non stop propaganda emanating from the MSM on the war in Ukraine, the most likely outcome for the West is a totalitarian dystopia far worse than Russia has currently.

* I refer to LIBERAL democracy whose purpose is as much to protect the rights of minorities as simple majoritarian democracy (populism).

Last edited 1 year ago by P Branagan
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

You could argue that putting small business out of business is the entire goal here. The left hates the middle class business owner. But when all commerce is handled by government-approved vendors, then all will be wonderful.

John Howes
John Howes
1 year ago

Having previously worked as a Social Policy Coordinator for CAB in Sedgmoor and Taunton Deane. I have a great deal of sympathy for the members of our society who believe the State owes them a lifestyle which their contemporaries in society have to work for. Much of what we spend our money on is down to choices. Preferring staycation and the pleasures of Cornwall to Cumbria is my choice, partly due to personal finances. I am unable to accept the demands of some former clients fo two foreign holidays each year. A couple of nights ago I was in a pub in Sherborne. “Jenny” was displaying a ‘tat’ which she told her tattooed friend, was a bargain at ÂŁ165. The pair then bemoaned tha lack of choice from a Food Bank in Yeovil. I was tempted to suggest that ÂŁ165 buys a fair few rations for a family. It would have been wasted, they believe that a Labour Government will fulfil all their future needs. If only that were possible I might vote Labour and start taking foreign holiday. My human right, or so I am led to believe.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

Relax. There is no Climate Emergency. There is no Climate Crisis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo2wmYxlstU

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  0 0

That’s what the dinosaurs said during the famous caveman protests of 65,000,000 BC.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago

As the MSM will never provide a balanced (unbiased) view, it would be great if someone could provide data on what proportion of the “eat or heat” population have ring-fenced other categories of expenditure to remain untouched e.g. phones, cars, streaming services, booze etc.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 year ago

“But there again, if the cause is something like the Civil Rights movement and yes, even the Climate Catastrophe, then emergency measures can feel necessary. I wish I knew how to square this circle.”
I think I can help with that, Giles.
Just take a long hard look at the science and the facts around climate change, rather than the hysteria, the virtue-signalling, and the deliberately misleading re-naming of it as an “emergency” or a “catastrophe” by tax-hungry politicians and sensation-seeking “activists”.
If you do this Giles, diligently and carefully, you will find that it is not an emergency or a catastrophe at all, but simply a course of events that mankind needs to manage, as it has, many times over centuries, managed other aspects of climate change.
Or to put it a different way, a small and vociferous section of humanity (perhaps including you) need to shut up, grow up, leave your student-radical-bedsit fantasy land, and join the rest of us in the world of common sense.

Last edited 1 year ago by Albireo Double
Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
1 year ago

There is absolutely no doubt these virtue signalling middle class protestors are simply campaigning against Tory rule.

Their own double standards and hypocrisy of not being willing to pay more taxes means they are simply wasting their time and energy and causing unnecessary obstructions to the wellbeing and welfare of others.

Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
1 year ago

On the contrary, Kundera is on the right side of history.
After all, whatever did happen to the Occupy movement?? It didn’t appear to achieve any of it’s aims against the 1%..
Interestingly even the now ‘on message’ Wikipedia suggests that the 1% saw the error of their ways.
Translated this implies that they ‘bought ‘ the silencing of Occupy by superficially aligning themselves with all their other good and righteous causes- social justice, identity politics, climate emergency etc. Protests continue for these issues, with what is pretty much official consent, of what is now the establishment, unlike protests for anything else.

The Occupy movement was the first existential threat to the corporate elites(1%) during the last decade, since they quite correctly identified the opaque forces manipulating global politics.
The second came from the likes of Corbyn and his like, offering a genuine socialist alternative.
The third, obviously came from Trump/Brexit/populism, one that genuinely threatened the elites. Hence the need to crush these using the fearmongering of Covid hysteria, facilitating the increased authoritarianism, surveillance and censorship.
Protest all you want now, but the elites and their global media regime are now ready to continue the fear and manipulation as it suits them and, as we now know, most of the gullible population will go along with it.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

Protesters will always find something to care about so passionately that it seems to justify their behaviour.

Peta Seel
Peta Seel
1 year ago

There is no Climate Catastrophe. There is sometimes unusual and extreme weather like there has always been. Where does Giles Fraser, of all people, imagine that phrases like “floods of Biblical proportions” come from?

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

moral exhibitionism”
Quite. Especially when what is ‘moral’ is far from clear. There are certainly some people who will find it difficult or impossible to pay high fuel bills (the MSN seems to find them with great relish) – but how many Don’t Pay UK supporters are just looking for a moral justification to avoid paying their own bills? And the results of their moral exhibitionism will mean that other people will bear the cost. Not quite so moral after all.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
1 year ago

Where I lived the local council has recently implemented unpopular ‘traffic calming’ measures which have led to increased pollution and jams for the unlucky few, severe extra cost & inconvenience for those less able to choose & is part of the added pressure on small businesses. The zero emissions agenda is very strong here, so are the levels of white collar workers working from home, wealthy enough to afford property here. The agenda is being pushed by a group of representatives on the council who don’t care how this impacts the lives of residents who opposed the scheme; they are mostly 20 something yrs old.

Ed Cameron
Ed Cameron
1 year ago

I know I’m a bit of an angry old fella but it seems I’m not as angry as many Unherd subscribers.
Is nobody else nostalgic for the days of considered, polite and sometimes amusing comments?
This section is becoming less Unherd than Unhinged.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
1 year ago

Given that Giles believes in a climate catastrophe one can only presume he walked from the UK to take up his lounger in Israel. Otherwise, he’d be a socialist hypocrite who complains about everything but expects everyone else to make the sacrifice and as we know, such peoole hardly exist in present day society.

ron kean
ron kean
1 year ago

Most countries in the West unlike the United States have a Scotland Yard or similar federal law enforcement agencies that will accept or moderate peaceful protest. It’s scary in the United States the FBI seems to be waiting for, watching for and I dare say instigating what might be termed as criminal behavior that will lead to legal prosecution for otherwise civil or peaceful disobedience.

Last edited 1 year ago by ron kean